What makes children musical?


I wrote a book to help parents know how to support their children’s music education. Cast as a memoir, I share what I have learned from teaching music in a variety of circumstances. Rather than prescribe, the book describes situations I encountered, and how parents might handle them. Understanding how music-learning occurs helps parents know how to encourage children. I hope my book accomplishes that.

Music from the Trenches is available from amazon.com:



My word!

People engaging in casual conversation on a si...

People engaging in casual conversation on a sidewalk in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consider this conversation: “Did you see the movie?”   “Yeah.”    “And?”    “Awesome!”    “Blew your mind?”   “Totally!”

this exchange is typical of what we hear on the street.   But does it provide any information?  Does it induce you to see the movie?  The movie-goer could have made any number of comments:

“It was enlightening.  I felt inspired to take action.”
“It was a revelation about something I’ve been thinking about.”  “I experienced a catharsis, and felt relieved of some fears.”

Rigi miracle 1

Rigi miracle 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vocabulary and phrases are tools of expression, our means for conveying information, convincing others, and sharing feelings.  While we need not use big words when small ones fit the bill, I suggest that we can and should strive for exactness of expression.   Continue reading

Your emotional body



Figure 15 from Charles Darwin's The Expression...


Whether we know it or not, our bodies record our emotions and, if not released, they have the potential to engender bad behavior or illness.  The language confirms this:  “She worried herself sick over that boy,” or “He died of a broken heart,” or “The whole business turns my stomach.”  These days, it is possible to identify and release emotions that have a negative impact on our bodies or spirit, and therefore our interface with the world.

 Bodily manifestations of strong emotions are often readily apparent.  Continue reading

Where it starts

Today’s parents are raising tomorrow’s bullies.  Harsh?  Relational aggression is harsh.  We are witnessing Lord of the Flies,where children form their own social rules and hierarchies.

Lord of the Flies

Image via Wikipedia

 In the story, a plane crashes on a desert island, the sole survivors being boys under 13 years of age.  Continue reading

There’s a song in the air

People used to sing spontaneously.  I can still hear my mother singing us her wake-up call, and my neighbor’s voice raised in song as he washed dishes.  This was before the age of cassette tapes, CDs, i-pods and i-tunes, a time when three generations routinely shared a song repertory, and the smallest child and grandma could sing together.  Continue reading


Are toys necessary?  All societies have toys, and who doesn’t enjoy seeing a child’s eyes light up when handed a new toy?  But are some toys better than others?  Do toy manufacturers and advertisers really know what promotes child development?  I suggest that those of us who raise children are best equipped for the task, using some common-sense guidelines.


toys (Photo credit: red5standingby)

Continue reading

Lights for the season

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

The crafters of what we call “traditional” were writers such as Charles Dickens, for the 19th century saw a revival of sentiment, and longing for the warm and cozy feeling we now consider integral to Christmas.  Writers spoke to those needs in their stories, and with the improved circulation of printed matter, practices became rooted in the public mind.  No surprise then that today’s Christmas traditions are increasingly formed by the media, for ‘twas ever thus. Continue reading

Gratitude and thank-you notes

Is it beneficial to feel grateful for what we have?  I believe it is.  People used to routinely say grace over a meal.  This ritual reminded us that we thank some power beyond ourselves for the food before us.  These days in theUnited States, many people have whatever they want, whenever they want it.  Where, then, is the gratitude for anything?  Continue reading